Saturday, 22 July 2017

Paddock homes plan would 'destroy' character of area

WIDESPREAD objections have been received over plans to build 28 new homes in Watlington.

Millgate Homes, of Ruscombe, wants to build on a parcel of land south of Britwell Road, which is currently used as a paddock.

The development would comprise a mixture of houses and maisonettes, of which 40 per cent would be “affordable”.

But the scheme has caused concern among residents and the parish council over access, flooding, the additional traffic it would cause and loss of countryside.

The site has not been included in the town’s draft neighbourhood plan, which names three sites for up to 260 new homes to the north and west of the town.

The council’s planning committee has objected on the grounds of flood risk, the proximity to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the traffic impact, which it says will be “substantial”.

The council also said the design of the houses was “unsympathetic” and there would be considerable overlooking. It was also unhappy that there was no play area included in the plan and the proposed pond was a danger to children.

It added: “The site has been carefully considered as one less appropriate for housing in the current neighbourhood plan process. It has not been selected, as there are other sites which will more than adequately deliver the required housing expansion numbers.

“Development of this site, in conjunction with the chosen sites, will overload Watlington with too high a proportion of new dwellings in relation to the existing, and so contravenes the first policy agreed in the Watlington neighbourhood plan process, which is to preserve the scale and character of this historic town.”

Many residents have also objected to the scheme.

Christopher Bratt, of Britwell Road said: “The location of the access point is in a extremely dangerous position on to Britwell Road. The volume of traffic is already dangerously high and the access point for the application is on a bad bit of bend.

“This application does nothing to support or contribute to the Watlington plan to help traffic problems with a relief road, nor local amenities, nor air quality.”

Christy King, of Allnut Close said: “We appreciate that development is required in Watlington but within the framework of protecting the conservation area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and therefore keeping any further development from encroaching on these areas. This development completely goes against this principle.”

Gail Dibbens said the development would “add nothing” to the wider Watlington environment and that the social housing provision was incompatible with the needs of the area, as flats rather than the two- and three-bedroom houses were required.

Beverley Robertson, from Pishill, said: “We share the concerns of many Watlington residents that the development will have a serious impact on road safety in the area and will increase the risk of flooding locally. The development would also effectively destroy a beautiful area of countryside which is enjoyed by many people in and around Watlington.”

Sarah Pullen, of Britwell Road, said: “The close proximity of these huge houses to the rear of our gardens will undoubtedly result in unacceptable levels of noise and air and light pollution. In essence, the character of the immediate area would be destroyed. It is a richly diverse habitat for both local flora and fauna. It is home to rabbits, field mice, snakes and bats as well as many species of birds and insects.”

Millgate says the proposal has been specifically designed to respond to the constraints of the site and to reflect and respect the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

Its application adds: “The proposed design has taken influences from neighbouring properties in the area, including selected buildings within the Watlington conservation area.”

There would be 51 car parking spaces and a new access while Britwell Road would be realigned to provide a wider pavement and visibility splays

The district council will make a decision on the application by August 18.

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